Eight Tips for Introducing Your Kids to Backpacking

Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors with your children, but there is something extra special about backpacking that makes you feel like you’re really getting away—watching sunsets and sunrises, cooking a simple meal at the end of a day on the trail and sleeping under the stars in the backcountry. Even for an experienced backpacker, the idea of embarking on your first overnight backcountry trip with young children can seem like a daunting prospect.

It may sound crazy to those who haven’t tried it but when your child is an infant or toddler they are relatively portable and it can be one of the easier times to backpack with them. You do have to carry diapers, which is a hassle, but there is not much else you need other than some extra clothes and appropriate food for their age. When they are old enough to walk, let them hike until they’re tired and then put them in the kid carrier for a ride and a nap.

When your kids are hiking on their own, start preparing for their first backpacking trip with day hikes of increasing length and difficulty. Ideally, you have accomplished longer and harder hikes before your backpacking trip so that both you, and your child, have the confidence to do a short overnight.

It’s also helpful if you’ve already camped overnight in a tent with your children, even if it’s just in the backyard. For your first overnight trip, choose a destination that is one to two miles from the trailhead.

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